Despite a constitutional obligation to protect Namibia’s natural wealth, authorities have for the most part not lived up to the obligation and the country has over the years suffered enormous natural capital loss, a local report has highlighted.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, compiled by Frederico Links, titled ‘Depleting Natural Capital: Threats to wildlife, sand and forests’, says that in the wake of the unfolding Fishrot scandal, the way Namibian authorities have been managing the country’s natural capital has enjoyed renewed critical focus.
“While government and political elite are fond of touting the country as an example of a nation state that lives by the rule of law, the fact is that the picture is much more complicated, as clearly many government authorities do not fully or optimally enforce or apply the laws they are mandated to in the broader public interest,” reads the report.
In the meantime, the report stated, the country faces a myriad of man-made and environmental challenges, placing ever-growing pressure on a finite and gradually diminishing stock of natural wealth and assets to carry it through into the future.
According to the report, in Namibia’s case, indications are in 2020 that an enormous amount of all the country’s types of capital is or has already been squandered, while the challenges are only deepening.
“Namibia’s rate of natural capital loss or depletion is not sustainable,” the report highlights.
On wildlife poaching, it says the crime has always been a problem for the country since 2015, considering the rising poaching cases of high-value wildlife species
“Since 2015, the cumulative losses of high-value wildlife, some of which are either threatened or endangered, has been staggering,” the report says.
According to the report, the high rates of poaching rhino and pangolins continue to be concerning through 2020.
On illegal and unregulated logging, the report says long-term abdication of its regulatory role by the forestry directorate was a key contributor to illegal logging and timber harvesting that has been contributing to high levels of deforestation.
“Over the last few decades Namibia has lost millions of hectares of forest cover due in large part to slack enforcement of regulations or unregulated logging and harvesting,” says the report.
According to the report, forestry officials have consistently disregarded the stipulations of the Environmental Management Act of 2007 in the awarding of timber harvesting permits.
The report also decried sand mining, saying that despite being on their radar for most of the last decade, environmental authorities have been slow and erratic in dealing decisively with the destructiveness of unregulated and illegal sand mining operators.
“Illegal sand mining has damaged communal areas, wildlife habitats and settlement areas across the northern parts of the country.”
To save the country’s natural capital, the report says the government must finalise and enact without delay the Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill.
The report also recommends the finalisation, adoption and implementation of the National Strategy on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement.
It also advises that the departments mandated to monitor and regulate the use of Namibia’s small and declining stocks of natural assets be adequately staffed, resourced and capacitated to optimally fulfil their roles in enforcing their mandates.
It further advises that measures and mechanisms be put in place to increase access to information for the public as a means to ensure public oversight over the activities of relevant and responsible government departments and regulatory bodies mandated to safeguard the Namibian people’s natural assets and capital.
2020-10-30 08:00:44 | 1 months ago